The Chicken Experience

Just wanted to update you on my Cornish cross meat chicken project.   They are just a little over 3 weeks old and are developing feathers on their wings and tail.

chicken- 1 day old cornish cross

Cornish cross 1 day old

cornish cross 3 weeks old

Cornish Cross 3 weeks old

When I picked up these chicks at the hardware store, I also had a weak moment and bought 3 brown speckled Sussex chicks.  The Sussex chicks will grow up to be layers and they are about a week older than the Cornish chicks.

brown speckled sussex 4 weeks old

brown speckled sussex 4 weeks old

Any time I try something new, there are always trials and lessons to be learned.   Even though I read and read and research about a particular subject, it’s not the same as doing it in person.  Here’s what I’ve observed so far.

First of all,  my brooder is plenty big but the barn is way too drafty.  It’s very tall and open throughout the entire barn and, even though we close the door when we go in an out, we go in an out quite a bit and I think this has caused some draft issues.

Second:  even though the Sussex chicks are only one week older they are noticeably larger than the Cornish.  When they snuggle together, the larger ones lay on the smaller ones.  This has resulted in the death of a few of the Cornish.

But, they are snuggling because it’s cold and drafty.  I have a heat lamp in one corner of the brooder but nothing else.  Time to regroup.

I got some scrap chicken wire and divided the tub.  I put the Sussex in 1/3 of the tub with their own heat lamp and the Cornish on the other 2/3 of the tub with their own lamp.  I put the lamps close to each other to boost the heat.  I bought a brooder thermometer to monitor the temps.  The first week of a chicks life, the temp should be around 95*.  The second week, 90* and the third week 85*.  Temps were good through the day, but would drop to around 75* at night.   Still too cold and a couple more Cornish perish.

Regroup again.

My brother-in-law and his wife also have some of the chicks.  They lost one during a really cold night but none after that.  What are they doing different?  They have the same type of tub I have with the exact same heat lamp.  They are feeding the same feed.  The only difference is they have their chicks enclosed in a smaller shed making it a draft free area.

Time to move.  They are still too young to move out to the chicken tractor so my plan was to move them to the shed side of my chicken coop.

This means I have to clean out the shed side of my chicken coop.  Sigh.

That doesn’t take as long I think, but now the dilemma is how to get them in there.

Well guess what?  The tub is too big to fit through the door!  Are you flippin’ kiddin’ me!?!

Regroup.  Again.

So, to date this is what I have done.  I found a smaller water tub in the field and brought it up for the Sussex.  They are now in the shed.

sussex brooder

The Cornish are in the same place in the barn.  I rearranged their tub and put the heat lamp by the wall of the barn and covered the draftier part of their tub with sheets and quilts.  The thermometer has read around 85*consistently.


brooder before

cornish cross brooder

brooder after

I now have this ritual when I go out and check on them (which could be midnight, 2 am, 4 am or all the above)  I like to chant Please be alive, please be alive, please be alive.  It’s been a week since I have done all of this and no more chicks have been lost.

Another observation.  I can tell a HUGE difference between the shed and the barn.  The shed is very comfortable with a consistent temperature.  No chills at all when I walk in.

Lesson learned.

Have a great weekend!


p.s. My dad and I will be checking the bees today so I will keep you posted and try to take pics. (?)  I do know one thing.  If I can’t take pics with all my garb on, you’ll just have to do with a written account.




About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
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15 Responses to The Chicken Experience

  1. Buffy says:

    I have been seeing all the chicks on blogs and mentioned to Farmer Rick I want to raise some. So, he brought me a rooster this week. (Not my point!). We named him King George. King George probably won’t be with us long. He starts crowing at 4:45 each morning! I’m waiting for neighbors to take him out! No one shouting “long live the king “here!


  2. Hi! I like the way you’ve photographed all the steps!
    Here’s what my mom and dad did with baby chicks when it was too cold in their barn: kept them in the house! 🙂 There is something romantic about hearing those peepings all day long, and a teensy peep or two even at night. And although some are offended by the aroma of chicks in fresh straw, having grown up with it, I find it quite amazingly comforting. 🙂
    Here’s to life! ❤


  3. Keely says:

    My favorite hen is a light Sussex. I don’t know how they compare to the brown speckled type, but Freckles is the best. When not trying to be a mother, she lays wonderful, smallish creamy-colored eggs. She often goes broody, though. This spring I let her sit on some eggs and she’s proved to be a fantastic mother.
    We usually nurse chicks through their first few weeks in spare bedroom. They get a little stinky, but it does prevent the drafts. I’ve known folks to use plywood or sheets of Styrofoam over their tubs like your quilts as well. Getting them over the hump to where they aren’t so temperature sensitive is an art. Letting Freckles (my Sussex hen) raise her own this spring was a revelation. It’s been almost entirely painless.


    • I didn’t know a thing about the Sussex but she assured me they were good, calm birds that laid quite a few eggs. Raising these meat chicks has definitely been a learning experience. I don’t like losing any of them, but I know it happens. I think the older they get the better they will be able to handle the temperature changes.. We are in for some cold nights again next week.


  4. If you haven’t had them before your going to love the speckled sussex… their just really nice chickens, cute, friendly, good layers. I’m glad you worked out the draft problem. They’ll be comfy cozy with the cover over them for a few weeks.


    • I have never had the Sussex before. They are a beautiful bird when they are grown. I hope we are over the hump but I have a feeling I will encounter another set of problems when I move them out to the tractor.


  5. Didn’t you BUILD a brand new chicken house or is that what you refer to as the shed? Seems like it had stuff growing on the roof. My memory is not great. I’m like Katharine, I would have brought them in the house — laundry room or unused bathroom. Just be sure not to use a teflon coated heat lamp. I hear they are death to birds.


    • Yes the chicken house with the living roof has my layers in it on one side and the other side was being used as a garden/catch all shed. When I got my layers last year, they stayed in the house for a couple of weeks but I have too many to that this time.


  6. I know it’s not practical for many, but what works really good is to have a hen hatch and raise the chicks. You don’t have to worry about keeping them warm or getting chick starter. She’ll keep them warm and make sure they have plenty to eat.


  7. So very interesting. You are right … read, research … then, learn by doing! The chant sounds just like me … so does the tub not fitting thru the door, etc. 😉


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